This coming weekend’s readings will commonly be classified as stewardship readings. It’s hard to avoid that label when you have the parable of the talents. But really, these readings are another in a series in Matthew on active waiting. In a sense, this is what stewardship is.
Often we equate stewardship only with money. Money is a piece of the puzzle, but it is only one piece of it. If money is the only part of stewardship, then we should just talk about money. The down side of that is that we raise the importance of money beyond what it should rise to.
Given that this is the season in which churches will be passing mission plans and budgets for the coming year, looking at stewardship is really important. And it comes down to the definition of what it means to be a steward and what stewardship is. There are many good resources out there on stewardship and I encourage people to tap into them. The Stewardship of Life Institute is one such resource.
Getting back to the main point, how we approach our mission plan/budget is important. What drives what is the question. Is money the driving force and determines what a church does? Or is the mission plan the driving force and money is a means to carry out the mission?
In our current age of declining churches, where the expectation is decline, many will fall to the first way of making a decision.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. That ways starts with the expectation that there is limitation – limited money, limited resources, and limits to what God can do, and what we can expect our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to respond to God’s call with.
Or we can start with the idea that God is a God of abundance and that God has big plans for us – to use us to make a big impact and change many people’s lives. This goes further than just that though – it’s the idea that changing people’s lives will lead to more people’s lives being changed and more people wanting to experience an encounter with Jesus.
Being a steward doesn’t mean hording what we have and burying it for safe keeping. Rather, we are called on to take what has been handed to us from God, and to go out and use it to expand the kingdom – God’s kingdom. As we do this, people will respond and lives will be changed. And more people will come in search of this Good News for their lives. This is how the Gospel is spread. This is how the kingdom unfolds. This is how we are called to be stewards.